Saturday, August 31, 2013

Said No Teacher Ever

My friend Hannah, a fellow teacher and blogger (Figuring Out Life) shared this video with me this week! It's hilarious and I wanted to take a quick moment and share it with you! I am a firm believer that we must find humor in life. It is good for the soul! As a teacher, there are so many thoughts, feelings, and work contributions that go on behind the scenes or during the middle of a class that very few get to see or experience. Some of my favorite quotes from this clip include, "I didn't realize it was Friday," "Don't worry about handing it in, it's just busy work anyway" and "do you think I could come in and work through the summer?" BAHAHA! Have. Great weekend friends and family, but most importantly keep it simple, but significant.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kicking Out Miss Sallie Mae

Excuse me Miss Sallie Mae, but get your interest and get out of my house! I am so happy to share
with you that we are DEBT FREE and no longer slaves to student loans. (Insert high pitched girly squeal!)

This has been a long journey for both the Hubs and I to get to this point. It has taken us 5 years to pay off $26,813 worth of student loans and credit card debt, but it was well worth it!! At 28 years old, we can focus on building wealth, saving for retirement, and giving generously. Yes, you heard right we are a couple under 30 who chose to control our money by working hard, living within our means and forgoing luxuries so that we can eventually live like no one else (Ramseyism)! Yes, we're weird and we're okay with it!

Also noticed that I am emphasizing "we" here. It doesn't matter who's student loan it was or who got suckered into the credit card because when we said "I do" everything became "ours". For better or worse, richer or poorer, we decided we were in this together for the long haul. Did you know money is cited as being one of the leading causes for divorce especially for couples married less than 7 years?

The first thing we did was chop the credit card which one of us signed up for in college. Big mistake to get that credit card. I think at its highest the interest rate was 29%! Of course, it started out low, but it quickly ballooned. Additionally, this credit card was used to make some useless purchases like soda or food which means that soda or that McDonalds meal was paid for over and over and over in interest. STUPID, STUPID.

When the Hubs and I were first married we lived with his parents. Living with them allowed us to save money for a house down payment. It wasn't fun, but it worked. We were young and finishing up our last semesters of college. We didn't need much so we made due. Now by the time we bought the house, we still had significant student loan debt hanging around our neck, but it was time for us to leave case de InLaws. This is one example were we're didn't follow the Ramsey strategy (Baby Steps from the Financial Peace University class) with fidelity; however, we were smart about it and got a great deal on our house and mortgage.

Let's talk about our driving situation for a moment. When this financial journey for us started we had our college car and truck. The hubs was driving the truck he got in high school and I was driving my little red sports car. Both of the vehicles were used, mostly reliable and paid off!! No fancy schamancy car payment for us. Many young adults run to a car lot and get new cars and payments. They use their student loans or part time jobs to pay that bill. I've never owned a brand new car. I've always bought used because that's what I could afford. My college car got me from point A to point B and C mostly without any trouble. I am thankful for that little red Celica, but she started to show more wear and tear at the end of 2010.

By this time, we knew a family car was needed. We ended up finding a nice low mileage 2007 Toyota Corolla-S for $11K. This is the newest car I've ever had and it was our second biggest purchase as a couple. How did we pay for it you ask? We made a large down payment and got a small loan. We made triple the minimum payment each month and had it payed off in 11 months. So once again, we're car payment free.

Other little things we did along the way is pay cash as much as possible! Money talks and the hubs and I learned the power of walking away and taking our money else where. Did you know you can sometimes get retailers to sell floor or display models? If you don't ask the answer is always "no."

Overall, we purposefully lived a thrifty, bargain shopped, lived a saver life style. Our furniture was hand me downs, our cell phones were prepaid, and I became a coupon lady, but we always had everything we needed.  It wasn't that we couldn't "afford it" because we could. We chose to look at the bigger picture. Fun fact: Do you know we don't pay for cable or dish? Yes, sir you heard right. We have an antenna and we get "free TV!" We get the basic channels and that works for us because we have a good internet connection that allows for online streaming.

So fast forward to this week. The hubs checks out the remaining balance on our last debt--the largest student loan and sees that the balance is within a reasonable "pay off" amount according to our yardstick. You see, if we had been a bit more die hard about the debt payoff we could have taken it out by withdrawing a large amount from savings a while ago. However, we didn't want to be without that emergency cushion even if it meant paying a little more interest for a little longer. If you know my hubs, he's always expecting the bottom to drop or the worst to happen.

As with all big money decisions, we talked it out. What should we do? I was all PAY IT OFF and be done! The hubs didn't disagree. So we committed to the idea and moved forward with the plan. The money was transferred and once it cleared the hubs did the deed of clicking that submit button and that was all she wrote! Bye, bye bye!  I am proud (more than words can express) of the fact that we met our goal of kicking out Sallie. It is a burden that is no longer ours. We never deferred payments or missed a due date; we faced this problem head on and we accomplished it together. We are smarter, stronger, and most importantly DEBT FREE as a result which is truly simple, but significant.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Momma Bear Instincts

Instincts.noun 1an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli. Ex "birds have an instinct to build nests"

I got a taste of my instincts this afternoon when I picked my daughter up from my In-laws because
my Little Miss wasn't feel too great. My husband called and told me that my father law said she was crying for a spell and had a small fever, but it went away. Okay, I thought. No biggie there. Perhaps she's cutting a back molar, gassy, or just in a mood. When I got there my mom in law was there fussing over Little Miss' right eye because there was an icky discharge. Oh Snap!  Que mommy adrenaline rush.

My first thought was pink eye or some infection along those lines. Well, there's nothing I can do at this point except take her home and try and get ahold of the on call nurse through the pediatrician's office because it's late Friday afternoon and they are closed! Just my luck.

We get home and I take her temperature again and she still does not have a fever. Good sign. So, I then preceded to call the ped's office and get a chance to talk to someone. In the meantime Miss is playing, lightly snacking, and watching TV. I explain to the nurse the situation and she tells me I should see a doctor within 24 hrs. I can go to after hours urgent care or go my our regular doctor during Saturday hours tomorrow. Of course, I'm told that if she spikes a fever or becomes irritable and uncomfortable to call back. Let the internal freak out and anxiety begin.

"So what do we do? So what do we do" keeps running through my mind. There are no pediatric after hours facilities near us, this is not an ER worthy visit, and tomorrow seems miles and miles away.

The most logical thing for us to do is wait, hope she doesn't get worse and go from there. I mean, this is just an eye infection and I feel like my world has stopped. I just want to protect her from all discomforts, problems, boo-boos, and icky eye goobies. My "momma bear" instincts want to fix this, but my hands are tied. So, I pray and ask my prayer warrior friends to do the same for Little Miss.

It's true what they say about parenting---it's like have your heart outside of your body. She is my world and my world stops for her. To make matters more interesting, these little hiccups make for lovely little parental frustrations between mommy and daddy.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and the hubs takes her to the doctor. Little Miss does have pink eye (I have no idea where she got it or how) and we get a prescription eye drops. I do my inner hallelujah for diagnosis and medicine.

Her spirits  remain good, but she's not as interested in eating any food at the present. She kind of picks here and there. Maybe because she is not feeling well?

So where do we go from here? Well, I am going to spend my weekend sanitizing, cleaning sheets, toys and furniture and washing my hands like I have germ driven OCD . Chalk this one up to a another life experience in the mommy column.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Closer to My Want

Ok guys and gals I wanted to give you a little update on my "quest/journey" to save up for a new
DSLR camera. I still don't have the camera yet, but that's no surprise because we are taking the slow and steady saving route! Dave Ramsey calls this "Lump Sum Savings." The only difference for us is that we don't have a set deadline. Remember, the whole point of this is to save responsibility through delayed gratification.

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. –Proverbs 21:20

As of today, I have saved $116! Since my first post about the camera savings fund, my hubby has also agreed to kick in some of his side money from his computer repairs to the camera fund. For the record, I did not ask him to do that, but he offerred. So with his contributions our money saved total is $331! WOOHOO!

I put this magnetic dry erase board on our fridge as a daily reminder of our goal and current success to stay motivated  (this idea has my name written all over it! The hubs could care less for cutesy stuff like this).

We continue to scour the Internet for deals almost every weekend or whenever the idea pops into our heads. I've already reiterated my preference to have a new camera over a used one with my hubby. I mean why not get new? We've even discussed this purchase being my birthday present this year too! I am totally down for that because realistically it might take us that long to find "the deal" we've been waiting for. I wonder if the hubs loves me enough to venture out Black Friday Shopping if that is what it came down too? Yikes.... I Know he does, but I love him enough to know that he would probably want to kill someone from all the stress and chaos so I wouldn't ask him too. We will probably order online when it comes time to make the purchase.

What are you willing to do for the luxuries you want?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Couponing I Went

I just wanted to share some of my coupons deals from my shopping trip today. The items pictured were purchased at Wal-Mart and Publix.

(4) 10 packs of razors $2.96 each
(4) boxes of Angel Soft tissues $1.50 each
(4) Reynolds baking cups .69 cents each
(4) Brawny Single Paper towels  $1.89 each
Retail Value: $28.16

However, the whole point of this blog is to show you how I did not pay retail, but how sales and coupons got me a great deal!! The razors were free with 4 cents overage because of my $3/1 Q. The baking cups also ended up being a money maker because I had a $1/1 Q (30 cents overage). I used a $1/1 peelie Q on the tissues and paid 50 cents per box. The paper towels were on BOGO and I used (4) .55/1 Qs which ended up costing me 40 cents per roll.

My OOP on these items was $2.24 for 92% savings!! Woot, woot! Now that's what I can significant savings. If only I could extreme coupon my entire grocery bill into that kind of savings than I would be rolling in the money, but alas I am still working on that goal. Some weeks are better than others. I will still take my couponing victory here!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Little Lady Language Development

There are moments in parenting that can take you breath away like when your child smiles for the first time or giggles hysterically. I myself had another one of those experiences recently with my Little Miss.

You see when Little Miss was around 18 months old, she had her language explosion! It has been delightful to watch ever since. It seems like she is learning a new word every week.  Last week, I witnessed my Little Miss articulate a new brand new word out of no where! I said "snacks" and she said "nacks." SO COOL! This was a once in a lifetime moment. I am so glad I was there!

Shortly after, I started to wonder how many words does she know at this point? So for the last few days I have been compiling a list of Little Miss' words.

Here is the list so far (hint-if you read this post really fast it sounds like a crazy word splash poem) Hi, Bye-Bye, Night-Night, Milk, No, Cheese, Chips, Nom-Noms, go, shoes, books, uh-oh, more, truck, all gone, ship, hop, toes, truck, box, clothes, poop, this, pull, lips, teeth, eyes, nose, up, nana (for banana), Nan-Nan (for Handy Manny), Yo-ho (for Jake and the Neverland Pirates), mine, fish, juice, hat, mom, dada, There it is, There she is, lights, bye poop.

Yes, my almost 2 year old can articulate a 3 word statement! Woohoo! I am very proud. I think my heart might actually explode when she finally says "I love you" or "I love you mom!"

Eventually, I would like to add "please" and "thank you" to that list. It is something we are currently working on. It is amazing how much she understands even if she can't fully articulate it! I can see why kids get frustrated sometimes because the know what they want, but we are having a hard time figuring it out as adults.

Like most doctors will tell you, there is no set time table for language development. Children will learn and develop at their own pace. Children at or around her age usually can say about 50 (give or take single words), but can understand well over 150 words according to research. Little Miss was a little quiet for a while, but once she got going with talking there was no going back! Soon we will be having full on conversations that aren't in "babynese," but let's not rush things too much.

I will gladly contuing talking to her (repeating myself or names over and over) and reading books to her because I know these simple and significant gestures are being heard, learned and understand in a profound way! Here is an interesting article on that note of "Activities to Boost Language Development: 18-24 Months" from Parents magazine. It made me smile to know that my hubby and I do some of these suggestions already!

Well, that's all for now from my realm of mommy! Take care and keeping talking....

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Week Reflections

So my first week of year five as a teacher is winding down. Here is a little bit of what I have been up to or dealing with throughout the week:

Picking out what to wear on the first day of school! I did this every year when I was in elementary school (probably middle and high school too). My sister and I would put of a fashion show of sorts in our new school clothes. Just my luck, there would usually be someone wearing my same outfit back in those days! Do you remember that feeling?

I've been helping students find their classes on campus. The freshman are wide eyed and in a hurry to get to where they need to be out of middle school conditioning and fear of getting lost on the first day.

Meeting new students and trying to learn names as fast as you can. This is resolved through name games, singling out chatty or disruptive students or just making them sit in a seating chart day one.

Shortened 1st period schedule due to extended home room or senior class meeting. Another favorite is a lengthened 4th period because the buses are late. Where's my overtime for that "little nugget?"

I have been unable to take my class to the library to check out their textbooks or library books. Some of my textbooks were not ordered so I am short on those. Additionally, the library system was having issues! Gotta love technology, right? No matter ho well you put together your lesson plans, there can always be something that throws a wrench into everything which forces you to go to a plan B.

Like any good teacher, during the first few days, I have introduced, reviewed, and repeated my rules, procedures, expectations 3-4 times. The goal being to have better classroom management. Usually, I end up repeating myself her and there, but like any intro to ed class or experienced teacher will say if you don't make the effort to enforce rules and procedures day will have a harder go of it as the year goes on.

Overall, it has been a great first week of another great year. I look forward to all the adventures (and frustrations) that may come. I hope that the lessons I teach and the lessons I myself learn are simple, but significant.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I want, but I do not need

Have you ever wanted something, but it was expensive? This is the boat I currently find myself in as I pine for a new camera. My husband and I looked for a new camera last year and he ended up purchasing a very nice Nikon Cool Pix camera. I was happy with the camera, but I was really hoping for a DSLR. I agreed with my hubby (and still do) that a DSLR camera was expensive. A year or so later, I still think the Nikon is a nice camera and we have taken lovely pictures with it, but in the back of my mind the DSLR is still calling to me.

Recently on a Facebook resale site, I was in talks to buy an advertised Canon Rebel 35mm. I thought I would be getting a DSLR, but at the last minute the seller told me it was not a digital camera. Bummer! It just goes to show that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Fortunately for us, no money was lost, but I was left with some disappointment.

During the aforementioned "ordeal" my hubby started to come on board with the possibility of a DSLR purchase. Yay! However, we are still ever mindful of the spending a good deal of money. Thanks to Dave Ramsey and being cheap purposeful spending habits. I mean $500 plus dollars is almost a mortgage payment. We just don't go throwing money around willie-nillie when there are more important needs (debts, bills etc) over wants.

So why not buy a used camera on Ebay or at a resale store? I am all for not paying retail, but I am cautious about defects and the lack of warranty. I would be perfectly happy buying a camera off someone if it came down to it or even a floor model. Of course, we would be mindful of the source.

Where do we go from here? Well, this is what I have decided for the time being---rather than just take money out of savings (which we could do anytime), I am going to save with a goal in mind. This is the slower, more responsible route, but it what I am comfortable doing for the time being. I have some tutoring jobs lined up for some extra money beginning this month so that is where this extra money is going to go I think.

I thought a savings shadow box, like the one shown here would be a cool idea.
However, the hubby said that wasn't a good idea to have a lot of money hanging around the house. I understand his point and I do agree....but it's a great visual for goal setting. Nonetheless, forward we go. I know I will find a great deal if I am patient. There are great back to school and electronic sales in the fall and let's not forget that the holidays are right around the corner too!
I am excited even though I will have to wait it out. Saving slowly is just another simple, but significant part of my financial life. What is on your "I really want it, but it's expensive" list? What are you doing to try and get it?